Iberico ham (jamón ibérico) is cured Spanish ham from the pata negra (black hoof) pig, said cheesemaestro on Chowhound recently. The most prized and expensive type is Iberico de bellota, from pigs that feed exclusively on the acorns of cork oaks. Cost: about $288 a pound by mail order. Lesser (but still desirable and expensive) grades of jamón ibérico are harvested from pigs fed a mixed diet of acorns and grain.

It is a very, very delicious pig, JudiAU says; cheesemaestro praises the silky texture of the fat. If you buy a whole cured ham, how do you store it? By the time you buy a jamón ibérico, it’s been hanging in a room exposed to the elements for three years, J.L. says. Properly stored and once cut, a ham can easily last five weeks. J.L. recommends covering with slightly moist cheesecloth in a dry, airy place at room temperature. Avoiding humidity is key, agrees RicRios, adding that you can wash and dry a new ham and “paint” it with a layer of olive oil to improve conservation. You can also use a wide slice of fresh bacon to cover the cut side of the ham after you slice it.

Discuss: Keeping Jamon Iberico
Can someone give me the low-down on Iberico ham?

Photo of jamón ibérico by J.L.

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